Before The Flood: A reflection and action items

Hope you’ve all had the chance to watch this informing documentary by now.

I found the film enlightening, err wrong word, eye popping to highlight the extent of damage our practices and life-styles have caused our earth. Some people said there really wasn’t anything we didn’t know — true, most of us who are passionate about our environment and our impact already knew about most of the issues and hoping this was a good wake-up call for many others. For me it was personal, Leo’s reaction and his sincere struggle to keep a positive outlook in the midst of seeing the facts — something I can personally relate to, gave me a lot of hope. Yes, hope.

What shocked me most — the amount of ice that has been melted from Greenland in just 30 years? I still can’t grasp that. The idea that that ice had been there for thousands of years and just melted in the last 30!

Some of the first criticisms I heard about the movie was that there weren’t enough actions he was asking people to take. Maybe I was paying more attention to catch suggested actions and noticed them throughout the film or maybe it’s because the things he did list were all those difficult to change habits that we just don’t want to hear. You can also check the film’s website — they have a Solutions page that lists things that need to happen. In every segment the film covered changes we can make in our own lives to have an impact on the related topic.

Below are some major ones I caught:

1 — Palm Oil: Stop buying products from brands who use unsustainable palm oil — that’s every single one of the companies that you saw the logo — Doritos, Nissin, Tyson, Burger King, Kraft, Heinz, etc… You can check this article from Ecowatch for a more detailed and comprehensive list. If you realize — none of those companies produce anything, I mean any thing that you should be eating or consuming anyway. They offer only processed foods which are seriously hazardous to your and your family’s health.

2 — Carbon: Reduce your carbon emissions. From the car you drive to how many times a week you drive you are literally in the driver’s seat. If you can’t get rid of your car because you live in an area where it is a necessity — choose to be more efficient. Don’t just go out driving when you need one item, do your shopping at one time or even on your way back from work. Register and pledge to give back to offset your carbon emissions as much as you can. Yes it is costly, but the idea of your kids not being able to see any ice or snow ever in their lives and live in a world where water is a luxury is even costlier.

3 — Carbon Part 2: Change your diet. At least reduce, but mostly stop, eating red meat. Not only is it bad for the environment it’s also, again, bad for YOU. Beef is the single highest carbon producing agriculture practice on earth. In America it amounts to about 2/3rds of all the carbon that is produced for our food supply. Even changing to chicken once in a while has a considerable impact. Meat production has many more hazardous side-effects too.

4 — Be mindful about where your energy comes from. Stop supporting energy companies who get their supply from coal. If you have your own home consider installing renewable energies. This doesn’t mean you need to go full blown and get off the grid right away, you can just get a single solar panel just to source your lighting to begin and expand that as you go. If you live in a large building instead of a home, request that your management team install energy efficient lights and windows at the least and perhaps even consider the use of solar or wind energy to source some of the consumption.

5 — Ask questions. Really. How do they benefit from what they are doing? Stop supporting products and services that benefit the climate deniers. Ask why are they denying climate change? What is the benefit to them? Then make noise to your governors, representatives and even the brands and companies you interact with on a daily basis. Send an email to the brands you wish changed one of their policies — sourcing, recycling or otherwise. Share the stories, share practices that would make our earth a better place if the majority of people followed it. Sign that petition. Share that article instead of another cute cat video.

6 — And last but not least — PRACTICE what you preach. Stop talking and start doing. Americans — as we learned the entire world knows we are one of the biggest creators of carbon emissions — also, unfortunately, we LOVE to argue about things just for the sake of arguing. Stop the talk. Stand for something and DO it. Changes in our American lifestyles are really not that difficult, downsizing isn’t a bad thing — you can say goodbye to all the “stuff” consumerism has got you to keep in your extra garage you don’t need. If you buy less, you’ll have more money too. That’s how it works. Think about it — why are they making you feel obligated that you need to buy that stuff in the first place?

During the segment in India Leo said it — realistically speaking the American way of life is not going to change in a way to make the impact needed in the short period of time we have. I think his words were “that’s unlikely to happen”. But what YOU can change matters. To begin with it says a lot about you: About your character, your sincerity and most importantly that you are willing to be a part of the solution. Ditch the pool, use less fresh water, take shorter showers, use public transport more often, etc.

If all of this isn’t enough for you and you want to do more — volunteer your time to help with a conservation organization. Donate your time and/or money to help with actual work without waiting for the government to do something.

Additionally — the missing part I mentioned above about the oceans. There are other documentaries you can watch to learn about the state that we’ve managed to bring our oceans. Racing Extinction is one of the latest and memorable ones. Planet Earth, Home, Planet Ocean are excellent to start as well.

As it goes with beef — seafood is a big culprit for damaging our oceans. It’s not just the way and the amount of fish caught, it’s the so called collateral damage (by-catch) too that is devastating our oceans. The number of fishing nets that are left behind each year from commercial fisheries kill thousands of fish for no reason — most of the time they get caught in a net deep underwater and unable to untangle themselves, starve to death. When any species of the ocean are removed, it truly impacts the rest of the finely balanced ecosystem. A decrease in the number of sharks and you will have a surplus of many other oceanic prey (i.e. octopus), lose the turtles and you won’t be able to swim in the beaches from the number of jelly-fish etc. Coral reefs themselves, each have a function of either hiding eggs, helping fish and other life spawn to providing half the earth’s oxygen and absorbing a third of our carbon! It is crucial for our OWN species’ survival.

Stop eating fish you don’t know how and where it was caught. Seriously. You can stop enabling perpetrators. Instead support the creation of Marine Protected Areas — zones established around key fragile areas of the oceans recognized by local and international fishermen as no take zones to allow for the sea life to re-establish and bloom again.

When going to the beach avoid using sunblock that has the harmful toxin oxybenzone in it. It practically kills some of the corals on contact. AND, of course, it gets absorbed into your skin and is not good for your own body.

Avoid using single use plastics. This is a very very important one — I’m surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the documentary. Plastics are made using a petroleum base- they also support burning fossil fuels and petroleum. Their production is a huge harm itself, but after their product life they are the worst polluters of our oceans. You know those notorious images of turtles, dolphins, sea birds, whale calves etc all caught up in plastic bags or straws or stomachs filled with bottle caps… Stop using these things. They all come from you or me or somebody we know. The alternatives are easy enough.

Just be more aware generally. Ask “where does this come from?” and “who is this company?” before you buy anything. We’re all connected literally 24/7 now and have the means to watch a video or read an article any day, any time practically. Use it to your advantage — before going for your next splurge item check out the brand. What do they support? Who are their followers on FB or IG. It tells a LOT about brands, and in turn those who buy their products.

It is a lot. When we look at the extent of the damage it is beyond devastating. For me, Leo’s film was great because it showed me that even HE is feeling so overwhelmed, after all that he has been doing. He was able to clearly convey the grim outlook he gets pulled into sometimes. I can relate, the more I learn during my travels and research the more difficult I find it to sleep most nights. But it’s also not all doom and gloom. As a recent visitor diving the Great Barrier Reef I was extremely happy to see that there are some very healthy patches there. Mother nature is telling us that she STILL has hope and is working with us, but it is time for us to do our part. We need to make the changes we can — as many of us as we can, as much as we can. Ditch the Jones’ thinking. We can literally save the world together, and only together.

Please let me know of your thoughts and any additional points in the comments below.

Ocean Actionist. Circular Economy Consultant. Reuse and Plastic recycling SME. Entrepreneur. Speaker. Underwater Photographer. NYC.

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